PHOTO ESSAY: Loved Ones Honored at COVID-19 Remembrance Event

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Published October 1, 2021
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The Montclarion
Students, parents and faculty gather on the steps on the amphitheater during the event. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Montclair State University hosted a coronavirus (COVID-19) remembrance event at the amphitheater on Sept. 30.

Heartfelt messages were written on paper bags filled with candles to signify the light from a lost loved one. Bags were laid all across the amphitheater, which lit up the stage after the sun had set.

Tissues were provided all across the event, scattered next to heartfelt bags. John LaRosa | The Montclarion.

Tissues were provided all across the event, scattered next to heartfelt bags.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion.

Dr. Dawn Meza Soufleris, the vice president of Student Development and Campus Life, had some words of condolence to give at the event.

“For many of us, we would suffer loss, loss of a loved one, a cherished friend, a neighbor, a coworker, but loss can be in other forms as well,” Soufleris said. “The loss of a job, the closure of a favorite restaurant. The inability to do something that we really love to do.”

Dr. Dawn Meza Soufleris giving her speech. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Dr. Dawn Meza Soufleris gives a speech.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Afterward, Karla Farfan Miguel, the executive vice president of the Student Government Association, came onstage to give condolences. Miguel mentioned how Latino and Black communities were unfairly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Black and Latino communities were devastated by the coronavirus since the very beginning, at disproportionate rates,” Miguel said. “This was due to access to care challenges and social determinants of health challenges. Additionally, the previous government administration had made the choice to seek health care during these troubling times hard on the Latino community.”

Karla Farfan Miguel giving her speech behind the remembrance bags. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Karla Farfan Miguel gives her speech behind the remembrance bags.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The Rev. Jim Chern from the Newman Catholic Center also came onstage during the COVID-19 remembrance. Chern brought up that it is impossible to forget COVID-19 because it has affected all of us in one way or another.

“I was talking with a few students the other day about this, our [COVID-19] remembrance,” Chern said. “There were two responses I got: ‘Remembrance? Who could forget it,’ and ‘I’d rather forget it.'”

Tha Rev. Jim Chern of the Newman Catholic Center with the tower of Susan A. Cole Hall looming in the background. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The Rev. Jim Chern of the Newman Catholic Center with the tower of Susan A. Cole Hall looming in the background.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

After Chern gave his speech, a moment of silence was given for all of those who had lost a loved one during the pandemic. Students found themselves comforting one another, as they had the chance to reflect and mourn those who were close to them.

A man holds back tears during the ceremony. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

A man holds back tears during the ceremony. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

A grandpa hugging his grandson next to his candle bag. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

A grandpa hugs his grandson next to his candle bag.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Two students grief the loss of their loved grandfather. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Two students grieve the loss of their grandfather.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Finally, Margaree Coleman-Carter, dean of students, came to the microphone to give closing remarks about the special event. She thanked everyone for coming out to help the Montclair State community, and for being a part of something so wonderful to help students and faculty alike.

“It will get better. It’s going to get better because we’re going to hope and expect that it will be better,” Coleman-Carter said.

Margaree Coleman-Carter preaching for all students and faculty to remain hopeful. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Margaree Coleman-Carter preaches for all students and faculty to remain hopeful.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

As the crowds began to dwindle and the sun began to set, the candles inside of each bag began to shine, lighting up the messages each person handwrote.

Paper bags and candles accompanied by Christmas lights all across the amphitheater. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Paper bags and candles accompanied by Christmas lights all across the amphitheater.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The paper bags were used as a way to cope with the pain of loss during the pandemic. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The paper bags are used as a way to cope with the pain of loss during the pandemic.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

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